During his confirmation hearing for Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts famously likened the role of a judge to the job of a baseball umpire:
“Judges and Justices are servants of the law, not the other way around,” he said in his opening statement. “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.”
Chief Justice Roberts was correct – but try telling that to the agitators and critics of conservative justices, many of whom have made almost a cottage industry of harassing members of the High Court. During the last few months, they’ve lobbed all kinds of scurrilous accusations, especially at Justices Thomas and Alito.
Knowing that they can’t change court decisions, ideological critics have waged an all-out war against the integrity and ethics of select court members. It’s flat-out character assassination – and many in the press are happily and gleefully going along, facts and truth notwithstanding.
Justice Thomas has been accused of going on vacations with a generous friend and failing to report it (even though he wasn’t required to do so) and allowing a benefactor to cover school tuition of a young nephew whom the Thomases invited into their home after a family tragedy.
Justice Alito has been accused of failing to report a fishing trip with friends who covered his expenses, as well as failing to recuse himself from a specific court case.
Traditionally, Supreme Court justices operate quietly behind the scenes. They go on the record with their published opinions, of course, but they rarely respond to their critics or criticism. But it seems Justice Alito has had enough, and good for him.
Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, the author of the Dobbs ruling and Roe reversal calls out ProPublica, a self-described “independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force.” In reality, the site is more left-center and reveals its bias by what it investigates – and what it doesn’t.
“I had no obligation to recuse in any of the cases that ProPublica cites,” Justice Alito wrote. “During my time on the Court, I have voted on approximately 100,000 certiorari petitions. The vast majority receive little personal attention from the justices because even a cursory examination reveals that they do not meet our requirements for review … To ensure that I am not required to recuse, multiple members of my staff carefully check the names of the parties in each case and any other entities listed in the corporate disclosure statement required by our rules.”
The investigating site is zeroing in on Justice Alito’s relationship with a gentleman named Paul Singer, whom they describe as a “hedge fund billionaire” and who had business before the court.
As for the charge that the justice didn’t report a fishing trip that included Mr. Singer back in 2008, Mr. Alito explained that up until a few months ago, rules governing members of the court didn’t require any such disclosure. He then described some of the circumstances concerning the trip – that he (Alito) was a last-minute addition, and that the Alaskan lodge where the friends stayed was rustic. ProPublica refers to it as a “luxury fishing lodge” and leaves readers to think that had Alito paid for the trip himself it would have cost well over $100,000 since they flew on a private plane.
Never mind that the lodge was renovated since Justice Alito stayed and the fishing group was flying there and already had an available seat.
“Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant,” wrote Alito in today’s Journal. “It was my understanding that this would not impose any extra cost on Mr. Singer. Had I taken commercial flights, that would have imposed a substantial cost and inconvenience on the deputy U.S. Marshals who would have been required for security reasons to assist me.”
Critics of both Justices Thomas and Alito don’t appear interested in truth – but instead in trying to damage their credibility and force them off the Supreme Court. This is how much abortion zealots are committed to preserving the unfettered killing of innocent pre-born children. Good and noble men who have devoted their lives to public service are seen as necessary causalities in this ongoing culture war.
Friends of life, liberty, truth and freedom must continue to pray for the honorable members of the Supreme Court who are under fire and who serve our nation at great risk to both their safety and their reputation.
Photo from U.S. Supreme Court.